Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Questions (510)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

510. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government his plans to introduce legislation regarding the noise coming from house alarms; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22926/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Programme for Government includes a commitment to take further steps to address noise pollution, inter alia, through the introduction of fixed payment notices (also known as on-the-spot fines).  The development of new noise legislation by my Department is being considered in the context of this commitment. However, as indicated in the Government Legislation Programme published on 15 January 2014, it is not possible at this time to indicate when the Bill will be published, having regard to the broad range of legislative priorities to be progressed across my Department’s remit.

Notwithstanding the above, the Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992 currently provides local authorities with powers to require measures to be taken to prevent or limit noise from any premises, processes and works. The Environment Section of the relevant City or County Council is the appropriate contact point for reporting a noise nuisance in this regard.   In addition, under section 108 of the Act, where any noise is so loud, so continuous, so repeated, of such duration or pitch or occurring at such times as to give reasonable cause for annoyance, then it is open to any person, or group of persons, to bring a complaint to the District Court.  The Court may order the person or body making, causing or responsible for the noise to take the measures necessary to reduce the noise to a specified level or to take specified measures for the prevention or limitation of the noise and the person or body concerned must comply with that order.  The procedures involved have been simplified to allow action to be taken without legal representation. A public information leaflet outlining the legal avenues available to persons experiencing noise nuisance is available to download from my Department’s website at the following address: www.environ.ie/en/Environment/Noise/. The Court may take into account whether the person alleged to have caused a noise nuisance took all reasonable care to prevent or limit the noise by using facilities, practices and methods of operation that are suitable for that purpose.  The Private Security Authority (PSA), under the aegis of the Department of Justice and Equality, is responsible for the licensing, control and supervision of all installers of security equipment.  The PSA has powers to maintain and improve standards in the provision of services, including standards for intruder alarms.  As of 1 August 2006, alarm installers cannot legally operate without a PSA licence, the granting of which requires that the installer is compliant with the Irish Standard for intruder alarm systems, IS EN50131.  While this standard does not specify a maximum decibel level, it does specify a maximum duration of 15 minutes for the sounding of external alarms on buildings, which must cease automatically after this maximum duration.  This applies to all external alarms installed after 1 August 2006.